Based on all the hype and Congressional angst about U.S. corporations keeping profits overseas and thus away from the U.S. Taxman, one would be led to believe that Cisco and Apple are the biggest offenders. 

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers has gone on “60 Minutes” to plead Cisco’s case for sheltering billions overseas. He’s also threatened to quit investing in new jobs and new acquisitions in the U.S., professing that he would prefer to do business in Canada and countries such as Israel. However, Cisco’s most recent acquisitions have occurred in the U.S.

Just last week, Cisco announced it is trimming 5 percent of its work force, or about 4,000 jobs. Where those cuts will occur is not yet known, and Cisco workers in RTP – where the networking giant houses its second largest campus – have to be wondering if they are on the cut list.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, has been all but drawn and quartered by Congress for Apple’s profit strategy.

But the joke is on us. Turns out that neither Apple nor Cisco are the biggest profit protectors in the “repatriation” of profits controversy.

According to a Bloomberg analysis, IBM, which recently laid off thousands of North American workers, and Microsoft are actually keeping the most profits offshore.

Here is the list of the top 25 among high-tech firms, and several have strong links to the Triangle:

1. Microsoft, $76.4 billion

2. IBM, $44.4 billion

3. Cisco Systems, $41.3 billion

4. Apple, $40.4 billion

5. Hewlett-Packard, $33.4 billion

6. Google, $33.3 billion

7. Oracle, $26.2 billion

8. Dell, $19.0 billion

9. Intel, $17.5 billion

10. Qualcomm, $16.4 billion

11. Corning, $11.9 billion

11. EBay, $11.9 billion

13. Xerox, $8.3 billion

14. EMC, $8.1 billion

15. Western Digital, $6.3 billion

16. Texas Instruments, $5.5 billion

17. Western Union, $4.4 billion

18. Broadcom, $4.2 billion

19. Analog Devices, $3.2 billion

19., $3.2 billion

21. Computer Sciences, $3.0 billion

22. Adobe Systems, $2.9 billion

23. Symantec, $2.8 billion

24. Altera, $2.7 billion

25. MasterCard, $2.6 billion

The list was compiled by Bloomberg Rankings and is based on regulatory filings of the 70 companies in the S&P 500 Information Technology Index and the five in the S&P 500 Internet & Catalog Retail Index.

Microsoft has defended its policy, citing U.S. tax rates as a “disincentive for U.S. investment,” Bloomberg noted in its report. 

Overall, trillions of dollars are at stake.

“It’s estimated that U.S. corporations have more than $2 trillion in offshore earnings that are not being taxed by the U.S.,” Bloomberg reported last week. Firms “funnel cash overseas to lower their tax rates and in some cases have figured out ways to bring the money home tax-free through acquisitions and other means.”